I suspect that sometimes I make people a little crazy with all this talk about bicycles and transportation and Bike5. So many in my circle of friends still view this as a hobby, a child’s game. Others who don’t know me very well assume I’m some aging anti-car, leftist hippie with an axe to grind. They don’t understand my complete and utter obsession with bicycles. Sometimes I don’t understand it myself until I step back and look at the big picture. Then it becomes very clear.
So here it is. The simple act of using a bicycle as transportation creates more connected, more engaged, healthier, better communities while creating a better you. Everywhere it is tried…where motor vehicles are pushed to the periphery and people are placed front and center…ends up better than it was previously. Amsterdam is better. So is Copenhagen. Montreal, Chicago, Davis, Portland, Minneapolis, Denver, Ogden, Indianapolis? All better.
Who doesn’t want better places? I do. I suspect you do, too. This is real easy. Lower the speed limit. Give people the unfettered right to use the road to move about however makes the most sense to them. Compel those with the power to do the most damage to own it and accommodate others and you end up with a better place. It’s not rocket science.
So why don’t more of us do this? There are a lot of reasons but it mostly boils down to inertia. Once we start down a path, we tend to stay on it until something jars us off of it. We’ve been on the automobile path since the 1950s. It’s going to take a pretty significant jarring to get things to change. 30,000 traffic deaths a year hasn’t done it. We wipe out a small city every year and take it in stride. That’s our legacy until we replace it with something better.
There’s another challenge. Cycling is perceived as less convenient than driving a car and at some point it is. It would be a major hassle, for example, to cycle from my current home in Indianapolis to Utah for a business meeting. It wouldn’t be impossible, but it wouldn’t be very practical either. That changes, though, as you shorten trip length. At some point it becomes doable. At another point it becomes more than doable…it becomes better.
That point is somewhere around five miles. Just about anyone can ride a bicycle five miles. It’s the equivalent of walking a mile and most people already do this each and every day.
70% of all trips by automobile are five miles or less according to the US Department of Transportation. That means you have plenty of opportunities to try this. If you choose to do so, the payoff is huge.
So now you know the real deal. Biking five miles instead of driving a motor vehicle leads to better everything.
Better you. Better community. Better world.
It doesn’t get any more real than that.